As we approach the end of 2023, it’s natural to look back at the past year.

For the Betsuin, the year began with the traditional New Year’s Day Service being held in-person for the first time in 3 years due to the Covid pandemic. This was just a precursor of what was to come as many events returned to being held in-person for the first time in several years. The list of events included the Dana Day/Volunteer Recognition Service in January, Jr. YBA’s Spaghetti Dinner and the Boy Scout Sunday Service in February, the Girl Scout Sunday Service in March, the Generation Unite event and our Hanamatsuri Service in April, the CYS Pancake Breakfast in May, our Baccalaureate Service and luncheon in June, SJ Obon and our Obon & Hatsubon Services in July, the ABA Rummage Sale in August, our Keiro Kai event in September, Troop 611 e-Waste collection in October, and the “Arigatou, Reiko” event in November. And we will have our traditional Bodhi Day Service in December and our annual New Year’s Day Luncheon on January 21st for the first time in 4 years.

One thing you may not be aware of is that a lot of work on our facilities was done this past year. The floors in the office building were replaced and sealed (as water would sometimes leak up through the floor), the walls were painted, and we just replaced the heater/AC unit in the Hondo. We are also having the roof of the Hondo checked out as some of the roof tiles have broken and/or fallen off. Many thanks to the Wednesday crew for all the work they did on these projects and for everything they do all year!

And for me, one of the highlights of 2023 occurred in May when 38 of us traveled to Japan for the Hongwanji Celebration and 19 of us attended the World BWA Conference in Kyoto. We had an amazing time as we got to attend the celebration at the Hongwanji with hundreds of people from around the world, enjoyed attending a service and lunch provided my Reverend Mikame’s family and their Sangha at Tokuzenji Temple in Shimane, saw a lot of amazing sights (including a sword-making demonstration) and made Bizen pottery, and, of course, had a lot of delicious food everywhere we went. Best of all, Lynn and I got to do this with some of our Betsuin friends and we made new friends too!

And, as most of you know, we had a very successful Obon Festival. For the first time in 4 years, we had all our food and game booths back. We had more people participate in our Obon Odori than ever as we had over 1600 dancers on Saturday and more than 1000 people dancing on Sunday for the first time. Thank you to the members of the Obon Committee for your planning and leadership and thanks to all of you who generously donated your time and effort to make our Obon Festival so successful!

For me, as I look back at the past year, the one thing that struck me the most was how much people wanted to get out and interact with others. I saw it at many of the events I went to, especially at Nikkei Matsuri and Obon. I saw it on my recent trip to Hawaii where we saw so many people speaking many different languages. I saw it in Japan where I ran into people from Europe, Asia, and Australia. And I saw it at a wedding reception I attended for one of my cousin’s sons as I got to see my Auntie Alice and Auntie Dorothy and some of my cousins for the first time since the pandemic started. It was great to see relatives and friends that I hadn’t seen in several years!

I also saw it on Sunday mornings this past year as some of you returned to attend services and other activities at the Betsuin. It has been wonderful to see the joy on so many faces as you’ve interacted with old friends and made new friends.

So, to help our Sangha members reconnect with each other, we have decided to hold more events at the Betsuin.

  • We will be having a Super Bowl party in the gym (like we did a couple times before the pandemic) on Sunday, February 10, 2024. More info to come.
  • Rinban is planning on creating a “One Sangha” service each quarter where we can all get together. Details are still being worked out but each service will probably include a lunch where we can sit and “talk stories”.
  • Other possible events like bingo, board games, and pickleball are being discussed.

If you have any feedback regarding any of the above ideas, or you have an event you would like us to consider, please contact me (

I hope all of you had some happy times in 2023. Please take care of yourselves and I wish you nothing but the best in 2024.